Posts Tagged ‘Wicklow’

Sea Trout Fishing in Ireland: Evening on the River

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

Working down a fast run my line snaked out, unfurling before depositing the flies, a butcher on point teamed with a claret bumble as batman into the seam under the far bank. Throwing a mend the pair swept round entering slacker water at the run tail I pulled a yard of line to speed up and rise the flies, BANG, my rod wrenched and a silver migrant launched skywards.

Sea trout fishing in Ireland.

It never ceases to amaze how powerful and lively sea trout are, for a species that is so cautious once hooked they transform Jeckyll and Hyde like into a whirlwind of leaps, runs and dogged determination. This fellow played to form jumping, darting and thrashing all the way to the net. Lying in the meshes, butcher firmly in the scissors, glowing silver in the evening light, one could only admire the fighting qualities of a fish barely touching three quarters of a pound.

Sea trout flies.

The expression boxing above your weight comes to mind, it’s one of the reasons why I love sea trout fishing and the species is the sole reason why I took up fly fishing. Brought up on sea trout tales penned by Falkus, Gammon and Bucknall I had to experience the rush they describe when evening solitude is broken by an angry silver migrant intercepted momentarily on its journey to the scene of its birth. Magic…………..

Fly Fishing in Wicklow: A Blustery Day

Friday, August 28th, 2015

My favourite Wicklow stream has real character, flowing peat stained down what once was at the end of the last ice age an out wash channel for glacial run off, the wide valley floor as a result now composed of rich sand and gravel deposits. Adding to the river’s personality is a series of plateau’s followed by sharp descents, combining all these features one today finds a water that meanders in a mature fashion, falls youthfully then slows and meanders again, a pattern which repeats over a number of stages until the stream exits the valley.

Fly fishing in County Wicklow, Ireland for wild brown trout.

The wide flat valley in conjunction with the glacial soil enables cattle farming alongside the usual sheep, the surrounding land has become quite fertile and this is reflected in the water which is uncharacteristically productive for a Wicklow mountain stream. Today the river glowed, topped up by a few days rain it ran clear and at a nice level. Trout were showing along its length and coming to the fly albeit short, maybe it was the wind, warm but gusting all over the place, one second off your shoulder, the next in your face.

Wicklow trout.

I set up my four weight, initially working three flies a kill devil on point, coachman and a greenwells spider. After a time due to the wind, a tangle and a fly buried beyond the barb into the back of my head, that was fun, I dropped the greenwells and worked a pair. On cue a trout took the coachman followed shortly after by another to the KDS on point. However a pattern had started which became more frequent as lunchtime morphed into early afternoon, trout coming short.

Wicklow river view.

I have to say though the trouts half hearted approach actually added to the fun, pulls, slashes, a weighty lean all very visual. Line darting straight, splashes, head & tail rises, the whole experience quite joyful. Before I knew it the clock was heading towards four pm and I had a dinner to cook. A calm evening on this stretch will definitely throw up a few fish, Sunday is looking good, I’ll be back……….

Fly Fishing in Wicklow: The Timeless Coachman

Saturday, August 1st, 2015

Lichen covered granite boulders deflect pristine peat stained water creating slack pockets, fast runs and glides. Coloured reddish brown yet still crystal clear, beneath the surface gravel banks merge into dark seemingly bottomless holes. Moorland trout love these places, a source of shelter and of food, tasty morsels channeled towards ambush points between rocks where sheltered slow water butts against fast. Placing ones fly to work down that line gives a trout no time to think before it zips by and if the angler is lucky BANG, a sharp tug followed by aerial fireworks will ensue.

Fly fishing in Wicklow, Ireland. Typical moorland stream.

Slipping carefully into the run, gingerly treading on gravel (it has non slip qualities) while also placing my left hand on nearby boulders for support I reach my casting position. Quickly looking around for bank side obstacles, a short steeple cast will have to suffice. Working a longish line towards a seam flowing left to right winkles out a small butter yellow bellied trout, deftly removed and returned. A left facing glance reveals a deep pocket at 90 degrees, false casting downstream to achieve the right length of line then a snap across. Instantaneously as the flies touch down a jarring shudder transmits through the four weight line and a good fish reveals itself jumping skywards in a twisting blur of yellow tinged with white, red and olive green.

Fly fishing in County Wicklow, Ireland for wild brown trout.

Played across the stream the trout chooses to dive deep within the fast water and jump out of the slow. Dip left hand into water then grab, a perfect half pound trout which couldn’t resist a dropper presented size 14 coachman, all peacock herl and white wing. On Wednesday 21st June 1939 Professor of Moral Philosophy at Trinity College and keen fly fisher Arthur Aston Luce employed a coachman while fishing this very same stream to achieve a catch of three and a half dozen “good” trout with as many more returned.

Fly fishing in Ireland: The coachman.

Seventy six years later, almost to the month, a coachman inside four minutes tempts a brace of trout, distant progeny from a bygone era where so much has changed and yet a constant remains. A. A. Luce in his book “Fishing and Thinking” describes this stream and one is transported not backwards in time but into the present. For as one casts a line here it is apparent, any differences between Luce’s stream and this are cosmetic, water gurgles and flows, boulders stand impervious and trout float in their sheltered lairs before snapping into action, attracted by a flash of white…………

See also: Fly Fishing in Wicklow: In the Footsteps of A. A. Luce.

See also: Wild Trout Fishing in Co. Wicklow.

Fly Fishing in Wicklow: Moorland Spiders

Saturday, June 6th, 2015

Is there anything stirring”, asked the farmer who on a break from tending to his sheep had spied me setting up and walked over for a chat. “With luck a few wild brownies”, I replied which sparked a historical conversation on the farmers experience of fishing the river as a young lad. How along with plenty of trout he also caught small perch no less, that the trout rarely topped half a pound and all but disappeared for a number of years when construction works on the ESB facility at Turlough Hill turned the water black with suspended silt.

Fly fishing in County Wicklow, Ireland.

Sourced in the blanket bog high up on the dome shaped Wicklow granite, I assured the gentleman that the stream based on my recent experience was pristine, had clearly recovered from the silt contamination of forty years ago and today was home to a good head of trout averaging 6/7 inches with an occasional larger fish topping half a pound. Now well past midday and with the river beckoning I bade farewell to the farmer, picked up my four weight rod, hopped over a gate and strode purposefully towards a favourite pool.

West County Wicklow, Ireland.

A strong warm breeze channeled down the valley dictated the order of play as downstream wet fly. Having set up with a team of spiders, kill devil on point, greenwell’s in the middle and an iron blue on the top dropper I proceeded to cast into likely runs, seams and guts. At session end ten lively trout to 6/7 inches had come to my rod with an equal number visibly slashing at the flies topped by a head and tailing half pound fish, his lie marked for another day. With evening drawing in I headed tired but refreshed towards the car marveling that such solitude and beauty exists within one hour of Ireland’s capital city, wonderful………

The Lure of Sea Fishing

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

“That’s a grand looking lure Ger”, said I. Replying Ger iterated that it was a shallow diving plug with a particular action, “a cross between a surface and subsurface lure, watch”, and with a flick the lure was arcing through the air to land thirty meters out. On commencing the retrieve immediately a number of boiling swirls indicated fish, “get your spinner in the water Ash”. Fascinated by the offshore dance Ger’s words prompted yours truly back into life. Flicking out the silver Kilty, two turns of the handle and Bang fish on. Pulling and darting short runs commenced, an occasional flash of silver indicating where the fish was. Imagine the surprise when out of the calm sea emerged a garfish, an unusual catch for this neighbourhood.

Lure caught Garfish from a strand in Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

There was obviously a small shoal of them however no more were forthcoming. Proving an interesting end to another fine evening walking the strand while casting a line at various points along. This scribe has written at length about the damage wrought by unregulated whelk fishing and mussel dredging along the Co. Wicklow coastline, how an inshore aquarium was turned into a marine desert. Sadly one can also add the demise of North East Atlantic mackerel to this mix too. That said yesterday evening provided evidence that the sea possesses wonderful levels of endurance.

Fly fishing for bass, sea trout and mackerel off a Co. Wicklow strand.

Yesterday evening launce, a single small pollack and that garfish attacked my lure, a small shoal of about twenty grey mullet finned and filtered their way up tide parallel with the shoreline and a lone angler fly fished for sea trout, an odd fish announcing its presence, careening skywards then disappearing with a splash. A bass showed yesterday and Kit Dunne chartering out of Wicklow has contacted black bream, a mini revival? Time will tell, however to observe such marine life and behaviour along a much loved stretch of coastline after many barren years provides hope and that feels good……..

Bass from an Old Haunt

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

In 13 years I’ve only lure fished this once favourite mark twice, curiosity and nostalgia brought me back, will it still produce how has the workings of wind, wave and tide altered it? Not a lot really, a grey, calm, muggy first of September afternoon found me trudging up the beach to commence fishing on a neap high tide at a spot that pre 2001 delivered numerous bait and lure caught bass to 8.lb. With the ebb just commencing around 16.00 pm I cast my 32 gram silver kilty lure 70 meters out and slightly up tide, letting it swing round in the current and drop to a depth while counting to ten. Retrieving slowly with intermittent faster bursts a heaviness signaled interest.

Lure fishing set up, Kilcoole beach, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

Greater sandeel or launce are common in this area and a good indicator that bass could be present, a foot long, green backed and silver sided, the first of three or four along with a small pollack attracted to the kilty lure as I worked my way slowly southwards to the car park. Water clarity was good, a sea trout jumped Polaris like and a fish, most likely a bass swirled in the back eddy up tide of the point. Dicentrachus remained aloof to my lure but no matter to be in an old haunt brought back memories and conversations with fellow anglers on the strand made for an interesting session.

A nice wee bass from Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

To Terry and Stephen, it was nice meeting and having a chat, your insight and sharing of information was much appreciated. As for Jeremy, well done on your first lure caught bass and thank you for sending the image. Over the years this beach has produced numerous bass up to specimen weight and it is nice to see that one or two fish are still about. With settled weather forecast for the next three days this soldier will definitely return for an early morning or evening session.

Garth Brooks, Tourism Angling and Irish Méféinism

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

I question does the average Irish citizen really understand the true meaning of both civic cooperation and national pride, or underneath all the “come all ye” does a sense of  méféinism prevail.

Wild Montana Brownie.

The Garth Brooks concerts were cancelled due to a number of reasons of which the Irish people will probably never be fully informed. That said, allowing for commercial mistakes one factor is very clear, a small minority at the outset objected, said no as is their democratic right and as a result:

  • Ireland’s tourism brand image is tarnished.
  • Question marks will be asked internationally about our commercial ability.
  • €50 million directly will be lost to the Irish economy.
  • €15 million will be lost to Dublin’s restaurant and pub trade alone.
  • Hospitality jobs both full and part time are threatened.

In 2012, this writer put 18 months research and planning plus €15,000 savings into a fledgling tourism operation. Upon being given the green light by “The National Parks and Wildlife” and “Dublin City Council” yours truly was thwarted at the eleventh hour by, the bullying tactics of committee members from a well respected angling association and the uncharitable behaviour of certain high up people within a national youth organisation. Both it has to be said used covert tactics which would never appear above the radar, so enabling their squeaky clean image to remain intact.

As a result this soldier after being let go from permanent employment in 2010 had to rethink again his job prospects while also cancelling active bookings.  A small, but significant for this writer, example of narrow minded people acting in their own self interest causing distress to my family, loss of local tourism revenue, tourism advertising and a job or two for east Co. Wicklow.

It would appear that this type of negative human action is a national malaise which can pop up and destroy at any time. When this particular cohort of begrudging Irish citizenry start on their selfish crusades do they ever think of the bigger picture. Ireland is a country of 4.5 million people sitting on the periphery of Europe, indebted up to its eye balls but equally possessing oodles of potential, will we ever allow ourselves to fully achieve it?

 

The Essence of Sea Angling

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

Two feet below the surface tightly packed herring fry swam close to my rocky perch, suddenly, long darting flashing shapes snaked amongst the terrified mass snapping here and there. Launce having balled up the shoal moved in for the kill, behind them out of the depths, like a World War One fighter squadron of old flying out of the sun, appeared tiger striped mackerel and they meant business. Josh and Sean, two local teenagers enjoying the last days of their summer holidays were already running feathers through the frenzy. “Look full house, ah s##t one’s fallen off”, the joy on the lads faces saying it all.

Summer mackerel, our heritage, where would we be without them.

Nature in full view and a right of passage re-enacted annually since the dawn of time, instantly I was transported back to my youth. Firing out a silver toby, letting it sink then retrieving, the hit, the zig zag fight, and to cap it all the mackerel falls off just as I’m swinging it ashore, laughs all around then off again. The shoal wasn’t big staying around for a little over an hour before eventually moving on. However the calm surface regularly dimpled first here, then there, with fry jumping clear of the mini predators below, the larger chasing bretheren occasionally head and tailing.

At session end we all had a enough mackerel for tea, young Sean had caught his first conger whom I’ll quote, “that fish has made my summer”, and Jay God bless him helped me to understand this LRF business, of which more later. You can take all your economic surveys, holiday visitor numbers, specimen fish tales, celebrity anglers, the latest piece of tackle that’s going to change the world and place it all, well you know where. Yesterday afternoon in the company of Josh, Sean, and Jay encompasses all of what sea angling is about, the rest ultimately is bollox………….

Ennereilly, August 2013, a Slow Death

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

In the early 1990′s this writer gave up beach casting as a waste of time due to the deterioration in size, quantity, and variety of fish stocks caused by over fishing at sea in conjunction with the annual visible destruction of the offshore environment off the Wicklow coastline inflicted by bottom mussel dredgers, subsequently felt onshore within a year or two of their moving on in the guise of a once burgeoning littoral zone now rendered lifeless.

Waiting for a bass, Ennereilly, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

By 2007 appalled at the extent of this decline made all too apparent after a first boat fishing trip off Greystones in nearly two decades, the idea for An Irish Anglers World was spawned, a website informed by regular sea angling trips and desk top research highlighting this inshore marine decline while also offering workable solutions. Dusting down the sea angling gear a first foray was made evening beach casting off Ennereilly on the 03/09/2007, a balmy Autumn evening characterised by slack winds and a calm sea.

Aidan Walsh with a summer codling caught on lugworm.

That evening using lugworm codling, flounder, gurnard, and dogfish were beached steadily throughout the session. Another trip added dab to that list and on the 14/10/2007 a fine bass of six pound and a seven pound smoothie brought the species count up to seven. Below is a diary entry for that day and an image of the bass which on being gutted proved to be stuffed with mussel.

Ennereilly, Co. Wicklow, 14/10/2007. Shore Angling, 15.30-19.30pm.

Tide: High Water Arklow @ 23.24 pm.

Weather: Southerly force 3-4. Overcast. Mild.

Sea conditions: Roll on sea, no white horses, single wave on beach, stirred up, no weed, no lateral tide run.

Bait: Lugworm, Ragworm, Frozen Mackerel.

Fish caught: Bass (6.00 lbs), Flounder x 2 (over 30 cms), Smooth Hound (7.00 lbs).

Trace: Two hook paternoster, 18 inch snoods, 2/0 Aberdeen hooks, no beads, 5. Oz grip lead.

All fish caught close in on Lugworm, close to rock forty meters out and to the right of my position. Bass and smoothy gave very light bite indication. Bass caught about 17.30 pm, smooth hound around dusk at 19.00 pm approx. Strong fight from each. Bass had mussel in its gut.

Fished north end of beach, band of weed about 15 meters out running from rocky spur to my left. Gap of about 50 meters to rocky weedy reef about forty meters out and to my right. Other than that sea bed clean. On previous
visit have caught Codling to a little over a pound here, also on Lugworm.

A fine shore caught six pound Irish bass.

Since Autumn 2007 according to diary entry records and file images 16 visits have been made to the same location. Dates and times have varied from May through to December with most sessions occuring between the period July to mid October. Up to Autumn 2010 fishing was consistant across the range of species listed above, with flounder particularly prevalent.

A typical Ennereilly flounder.

Since then it has declined considerably, year upon year getting worse. It is no coincidence that in late summer early autumn 2010 a mussel dredger was seen working in the area, most likely the same mussel dredger reported by the Independent on the 01/09/2010 which was escorted into Arklow harbour twice inside 24 hours for illegal mussel dredging. The skipper was quoted; “We are not fishermen, we are farmers. If we have no mussel seed we have no future.” Typically not a thought given to the wider public or the consequences of his actions.

Smooth hound, Ennereilly strand, Arklow, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

2011 saw a proliferation of smooth hound with waves of this hard fighting doggie foraging along the shoreline. It was not unusual if fishing two rods for the pair to buckle over simultaneously the result of hungry hounds exiting stage left. Flounder and other species were noticably fewer on the ground that year with fishing trips relying on hounds to make the day. Whereas before rod tips would nod throughout a session if one got the tide and conditions right providing a range of species, now the mark was becoming more an all or nothing job with even LSD’s becoming fewer, the result one assumes of being fished for locally and converted into whelk bait.

Bass off Ennereilly, Arklow, Co. Wicklow.

In 2012 yours truly fished the venue once catching a smoothie, however friend David Murphy fished it on a number of occasions landing mainly hounds with an odd doggie and a surprise ten pound thornie bringing the species count to eight while resurrecting memories of the venues illustrious past. Overall though the fall from grace was manifest and this has continued into 2013 culminating in a session yesterday where accompanied by marine scientist Ed Fahy targeting bass with razor and rag under ideal conditions we blanked. Ed commented, “our baits are coming in untouched, where are the crabs?”

Mirroring the previous Sunday’s experience off Toberpatrick, Ireland’s east coast inshore waters through man’s intervention have become a desert. Mussel dredging is the cause removing habitats once home to a host of interacting species. Now homeless and exposed, possibly also deprived of their natural food they move on, are predated upon or die off. The end result is baits coming in untouched a clear sign of organisms down the food chain disappearing. Without their presence fish, even if they are swimming offshore, won’t be attracted inshore to feed, quite simply “no food, no fish, a sad feature common to the inshore waters off Co. Wicklow where mussel dredging has been practiced for decades. Sea angling, an activity worth €127.5 million to the Irish economy in domestic and tourism receipts is being slowly strangled due to blind political expedience towards a few. This status quo has to change, it cannot be allowed to continue, the above narrative a testament to the truth……….

Postscript, Wednesday 21st August 2013: Talking to an Arklow based angler who I know well, for certain at least one local whelk boat is not only netting LSD’s for bait but is also using smooth hound and bull huss too. Well that explains the reduction in size and numbers of smoothies caught off Ennereilly lately. As stated the whelk fishing sector is unregulated, they just do as they please.

Ennereilly, August 2013

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

As the sun dipped down behind the low mud cliffs we cast our rag and mackerel baited twin hook paternosters to points ranging from 30 out to 100 meters. Instantly my Daiwa surf pole dipped the line dropping slack, rod in hand running backwards while reeling to connect, tap, tap, slack, a flattie for certain. Half a minute later a fat flounder knocking a pound flaps up the sand and shingle bank, nice start.

Evening fishing off Ennereilly, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

Lip hooked and returned within jig time my second rod registers interest, leaning to disengage the gripper a dull weight heralds a possible doggie double. Out of the surf pops a juvenile tope about the size of an average dogfish plus a pup hound. Now that’s a first, I’ve caught pup tope the length of your palm but not this size weighing between 1.5 – 2.0 lb, strange.

David Murphy Senior with an average smooth hound.

Next in was fishing companion David Murphy with an average hound for the area giving the usual heave ho bite and customary run around. After that fishing settled down to a slow dogfish with occasional pup hound or tope double until between 11.00pm and midnight everything went quite. Casting out a mackerel bait produced nothing, time to go home. Yes the evening was nice, a warm southerly breeze creating a fishy roll on the sea, good company and a few fish beached. Smooth hound, flounder, dogfish, TOPE? Sounds good but you have to read between the lines………and I’m a glass half full person, believe me.

See also: Fishing marks, Ennereilly.